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Number of first-choice applicants soars at UTSC

by A. Westoll

After many months of hard work by countless staff and faculty, early results from the 2011 student recruitment drive are in—and they are very, very exciting. The number of first-choice direct-entry applicants to UTSC (i.e., high school graduates who identified UTSC as their number-one choice of post-secondary school) is up 14% over last year as of February 14, 2011. By comparison, first-choice applications are up 2% for the St. George campus (Arts and Science) and 1% at University of Toronto Mississauga.

Even more impressively, the number of first-choice applicants with average grades of 90% or above has increased 27% over last year at UTSC. In other words, UTSC is attracting more and more of the best and brightest students to this campus.

“University applications are up slightly province-wide,” says registrar and director of enrollment management Curtis Cole, “but they are up encouragingly at U of T, and they are up very encouragingly at UTSC. More great students are hearing about us every day. The numbers are up across the board.”

Credit for these strong statistics can be spread widely across the UTSC community. Recruitment staff have been working tirelessly, reaching out in innovative ways to show potential students everything that UTSC has to offer; faculty have been volunteering their time to speak with potential student groups whenever they visit; and through our redesigned Viewbook, new visual identity and compelling online storytelling, our strategic and communications staff have been redefining the public profile of our campus.

But these welcome statistics are also the direct result of a new initiative begun this year, led by the dean’s office, called Strategic Enrollment Management (SEM).

Until now, growth in student enrollment has occurred in the customary fashion, with increases resulting primarily from high student interest in specific programs. The problem with this approach is that some programs in which UTSC enjoys great strength and capacity have been left undersubscribed over the years, as prospective students haven’t been aware of the full range of exceptional academic programs available to them here.

Through SEM, UTSC is taking a much more proactive role in the recruitment and program choices of its student population. Enrollment is now viewed through a complex prism of academic, departmental and financial goals as well as campus strategic plans and market awareness. In this more holistic approach, academic priorities lead the conversation, departmental strengths and spare capacities are identified, and recruiters make sure to guide prospective students through the full range of potential programs, suggesting those which could be a perfect fit.

The system seems to be working. First-choice applicants are up a remarkable 52% in computer science, 32% in math, physical and environmental sciences, and 12% in biological sciences. All three of these academic areas were identified through SEM as prime enrollment targets—that is, areas where UTSC enjoys great strength and capacity.

“Strategic Enrollment Management has allowed us to be more proactive and academically targeted in our enrollment activities,” says Rick Halpern, dean and vice-principal (academic) at UTSC. “And looking at this year’s numbers, it’s certainly paying off. I have no doubt that SEM will have a lasting legacy on our campus, enabling our academic departments to operate much closer to their full potential, and empowering our recruitment staff to target desirable student groups with greater precision, so that more of tomorrow’s leaders get their start right here at UTSC.”


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